Ashburton District Council is investing in the development of a labour force plan for Mid Canterbury to maximise the district's potential for future economic growth.
According to Mayor Donna Favel, the plan will also help to identify industries where labour shortages are most likely in the future and help them to plan ahead.
The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) will first analyse the local labour force and then develop the plan for the Council and other stakeholders to implement. Among the issues that NZIER will consider are the educational needs or gaps in the Ashburton workforce; the number of people commuting between Ashburton and Christchurch; the more than 30,000 rebuild workers transitioning out of construction-related employment by 2020; and any upcoming issues related to migration.
Farming conversions, more intensive tourism, export growth, and population growth have all been identified as driving future demand for labour in the Ashburton district.
NZIER will consider the demand for labour in the district, the gap between it and supply, and how workers are attracted to Ashburton and retained here. The analysis will also involve reviewing existing literature, as well as interviews and workshops with local employers and other stakeholders.
"Council is anticipating and planning for a strong population growth in Ashburton over the coming decades but that is reliant on expanding the local economy, " the Mayor says. "It is a real chicken and egg situation with us needing people to come here to work now, so that more will come in the future and help us realise the district's potential."
The labour force analysis is now underway and it is anticipated a labour force plan will be completed before the end of the year.